Long vacation 4 weeks before A race

Background: My A race is on 9/14; it’s a 60ish mile gravel race with a ton of climbing. This will be my first race ever, and my goal is just to finish within the time cutoff – not trying to be competitive, except with myself. I just came off of sweet spot base I & II low volume and felt like I nailed all the workouts. My FTP is 240 after a bump I got this morning (just reassessed, I completed SSBLVII at 221 FTP). I weigh 152lbs.

So, here’s the issue – I started sustained power build low volume today. I have 4 weeks of this before a 3 week long vacation in Europe, after which I only have 4 weeks to train before the event in question. I don’t think I’ll have access to a bike during my vacation, so my plan is to maintain fitness with a long hike each week and 2-3 runs while I’m overseas. So, my questions:

  1. Is sustained power build for the next 4 weeks a good plan? I’m pretty sure this is the right build plan for my event. Following the plans religiously, starting build is the right move at this point, since I just came off base, and I know that build is really two 4 week blocks, so it should be fine to just take the first of the two blocks and skip the second?
  2. Is a few runs and a long hike a week while on vacation a decent plan for maintaining fitness? Going off of https://blog.trainerroad.com/recover-maintain-and-build-fitness-after-completing-a-full-training-cycle/#drop%203, I figure I can use a 3-4 hour hike for maintaining aerobic endurance, longer sustained runs for threshold, and some running intervals for anaerobic power.
  3. What should I do for the 4 weeks before my race, after I get back from vacation? I could take the second 4 week block of sustained power build, I could take the first 4 week block of sustained power build again, or I could take a block of specialty (century seems most appropriate for my event), any thoughts or suggestions on what the best option is?

My opinions here:

  1. Yes, definitely the plan you should do.

  2. You will lose fitness for sure. 3 weeks is definitely long enough to lose some fitness, though not tons. If you can find a hotel bike or can rent a bike for a couple days in there, you could really benefit from doing some workouts, even if it just ends up being 1-2 a week.

  3. FTP re-assess and jump into either Sweet Spot Base II or if you can handle it, try to start Sustained Build over.

If you restart after the vacation, you definitely won’t have a problem completing the race and since your goals aren’t super competitive, I would focus on the experience, gaining insight, not wrecking and having fun at your first race :slight_smile:

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You don’t say where in Europe you’ll be, but it’s possible to rent good road bikes and/or mountain bikes in many places, if you’re anywhere near the mountains you could enjoy some serious training. Even if you only fit in one or 2 rides it will help and would be a great addition to the vacation experience :blush:

I’d definitely pack shoes and cycling kit just in case. If you can I’d also take a helmet, but it’s also possible to rent those too.

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+1 on that. You can rent bikes pretty much everywhere here. And I would encourage you to do that too - I’ve been in similar situation (+2 weeks holidays less than 2 months before my A race) and even if I didn’t take weight, I did feel the drop in fitness and confidence.

I’ve put in 2 big weeks of training right after the holidays and I was back to normal though.

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Thanks for the replies! I should definitely consider renting a bike for a few days while I’m there. I didn’t think this is a very good option since I’m traveling with a friend who doesn’t bike. I never see my friend (they live 2000 miles away) so I’d rather not ditch them and go biking. But, in the span of 3 weeks, some alone time might be good, and I bet I can sneak out in the mornings – worth considering, I’ll bring my shoes and some clothes to wear just in case. It’s also possible I can get them to come along for a bike ride, though it might be hard to make that a training ride :slight_smile:

The trip will cover Prague, Vienna, and Lisbon. My preference is MTB, but road riding is OK too. Prague and Vienna both seem like they have some trails in town per trailforks, Lisbon not so much – I’m sure there’s good road rides in each place, but I’m not sure how I’d find them. Local knowledge would be helpful.

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I took a 2 week vacation in Feb and was a couple weeks into General Build following SSB-1&2. I was in a similar situation, European vacation with non-cycling friends.
What worked for me was finding a gym with spin bikes as close to the hotel/air bnb as possible. It’d wake up an hour or so before my friends and get a good sweet spot or endurance ride in every other day or so. I didn’t loose any noticeable fitness. I also front loaded a bit of extra TSS prior to leaving. Hope this helps.

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I’m a roadie but when visiting new places I look at Strava heat map and use the route builder to string something together.

It’s not foolproof but there’s a strong correlation between well used routes as shown by the heat map and places that are enjoyable to cycle for obvious reasons!

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For Lisbon area stuff check out http://weride.pt

Sintra, just outside of Lisbon and also a nice tourist site, is a MTB hub of sorts. The guys at Flow Bikes in Sintra are also great. I did an bike while my wife took an ebike for a tour around Sintra which was super nice, could be a good day to help maintain fitness :). Sintra is about 45min by commuter rail from the Rossio train station in Lisbon. The main city park in Lisbon is also littered with trails and I’m pretty sure WeRide does a guided tour there still…

As for Prague, if you’re interested, I have some links of some local clubs that have some rides. I’m sure they’d be happy to hook you up with some tips, but I’d need to dig a bit. It’s definitely another place you could get your friends on an ebike and yourself on a bike and ride out to Karlov Castle or something like that, be good for maybe 2-3hrs there and back.

As for Vienna - I have no clue. Sorry!

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It should be very easy to find a bike rental for you — road or dirt, incl a gravel bike — where you’re going. And as for your friend, it may also be easy, to rent an eBike, even an eMTB, which are hugely popular here in Europe. Each location has great road and trail running options. Good time to carry a GoPro.

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curious if you decided on getting a bike; as you mentioned, some alone time would be good. Also, I really enjoy getting up early, hit the road by 5:30, don’t eat anything on the ride, and be back before your mate is ready to eat! Now you’re 1,500 cals in the hole and can REALLY enjoy the eating aspect of vacation.

All the best and safe travels!

Brendan

I haven’t arranged any bikes in advance, but I plan on going at least one ride while I’m there. We don’t have much of an itinerary, so I’m trying to be flexible. My buddy’s not a cyclist but we’ve done plenty of long hikes together; I really want to see if I can get him an ebike and go on a ride together if he’s willing. If not, I’m with you, solo ride before the sun rises. This strategy is awesome, I do a yearly trip to visit with family in Asheville NC and do the same; nothing better than a massive, rich Southern breakfast followed by a massive, rich Southern lunch.

I’m leaving tomorrow; unfortunately the last two weeks have not gone to plan and my training plan compliance has been horrible. Work has been busier than ever, and I’ve barely been able to bring myself to ride with the 1 or 2 waking hours I’ve had to myself this week. Diet has suffered too. I’ve been able to keep my sleep at good levels, but I’ve had to dial back my training to make that happen.

Work should be better when I get back, but I’m adjusting my expectations considering I feel like I’ve probably lost a good bit of fitness in the last week. I was feeling pretty good at my FTP of 240 first two weeks of my training block, but now I think I’ve probably backslid a good bit – but, on the positive side, I find once you’ve hit a certain FTP, it’s that much easier to get back there. What I do while I’m on my vacation might make me change my mind, but at this point I’m thinking the best option when I get back will be SSBLVII.

don’t overthink it; you won’t lose too much from 2 weeks off; it’s not great, but it will come back sooner than you expect; just chip away at it.

good luck with the hikes, and worst case, find a spin class at 5:30am and crush that.

have a great trip!!

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I’ve been there. Don’t let it defeat you psychologically, and don’t let it ruin the vacation or the race when you get to it. Sometimes you just have to move on and deal with what you’ve got. Like you say, adjust expectations and get back on a plan when you get back. Don’t try to make up for lost time, keep it all in perspective and enjoy the race.

A few years ago I aimed for a specific time target in a tough gran fondo, I started training months before, then work, life, vacation, sickness and some more work got in the way. I was so psyched out by the training I’d missed I completely ignored the training I had done and the simple fact that I was going there to ride my bike in the mountains for fun. I resented time with the family because I felt I should be training, and I was so pissed off with work I nearly quit. In the end the bike trip was OK but because I was slower than I’d planned in the big event I felt like it was a total waste. Looking back it was anything but, it was a great event and I was lucky to be able to take part.

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Time for an update!

So far my vacation is going great. No real stress from the race, and I’ve enjoyed it plenty. I didn’t get on a bike at all in Czech Republic, but I did do some hiking and running. Also went whitewater kayaking which is a good workout. In Vienna, I went to a spin class — the class was interesting, almost 100% out of the saddle for 50mins, not my strong suit. No AC either, so I was maxed out the whole time (anaerobic zone for 40mins, no power data). We had a chance to SUP in Vienna. I tried to rent a road bike in Vienna but had no luck.

I just got to Portugal, planning on finding another spin class or two to take here, and that’s it! I don’t think I’ll have much time to ride here as we’re visiting so many different cities. I’m very much looking forward to getting back to the US in a week and resuming my training. Very optimistic about where my fitness will be then — yeah, I’ve ate and drank a lot, but I’ve done a lot of base training in the last year and I’ve felt strong in all the strenuous activity I’ve done here.

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Final update – I got back on Sunday, did a fun MTB ride yesterday, and ramp test this morning. Results of the ramp test weren’t too bad considering I had 3 weeks off – went from 240FTP to 227. I did actually lose a kg of weight on the trip unintentionally (though I suspect I’m a little higher fat than before), so not too bad. I plan on reassessing in 2 weeks or so, pretty optimistic I’ll be able to get back to 240 soon.